COLUMBUS — A new Ohio Department of Transportation project, funded in large part by a federal grant, will help Ohio’s 34 rural transit systems operate more efficiently and expand broadband access in Ohio.
The Transit Tech Ohio project has been awarded a $6.8 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant. The money will be used to help rural transit agencies purchase hardware and software that allows them to schedule and dispatch transit vehicles.
“The lack of these upgrades is leading to inefficiencies — inefficiencies that cost time and money and ultimately underserve the people who rely on the vital services of rural transit,” said ODOT Assistant Director Jim Barna.
Vehicles will also be equipped with GPS, Automatic Vehicle Location systems, tablets, and mobile data terminals. All of the upgrades will promote the ability for multiple agencies to share services.
“The expected funds from this grant will allow Wilmington Transit to put in place a call and dispatch system that will greatly improve efficiency and help shorten wait times which has been our main obstacle to providing the superior service we strive for,” said Wilmington Department of Public Transportation Director Phillip Floyd.
Transit Tech Ohio will also expand access to broadband by funding public-private partnerships that optimize transit operations through equipment acquisitions, the installation of technology on existing towers and structures owned by the state, and new tower construction when necessary.
“Rural communities continually struggle to obtain the same level of access to resources that are available to urban and suburban counterparts. We are excited about all parties helping to expand broadband access, adoption, and use throughout Ohio,” said Lindsay Shanahan, executive director of Connect Ohio.
Increasing broadband access will improve the effectiveness of existing business and educational institutions, including public schools and small colleges. It will also enhance the quality of life for residents and businesses of rural Ohio by delivering information and access to online resources.
The project is expected to take about 38 months to complete.